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Airey, J. & Linder, C. (2016). Teaching and Learning in University Physics: A Social Semiotic Approach. In: : . Paper presented at The 8th International Conference on Multimodality (8ICOM, 6-9 Dec 2016, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. .
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teaching and Learning in University Physics: A Social Semiotic Approach
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Social semiotics is a broad construct where all communication is viewed as being realized through semiotic resources. In undergraduate physics we use a wide range of these semiotic resources, such as written and oral languages, diagrams, graphs, mathematics, apparatus and simulations. Based on empirical studies of undergraduate physics students a number of theoretical constructs have been developed in our research group (see for example Airey & Linder 2009; Fredlund et al 2012, 2014; Eriksson 2015). In this presentation we describe these constructs and examine their usefulness for problematizing teaching and learning in university physics. The theoretical constructs are: discursive fluency, discourse imitation, unpacking and critical constellations of semiotic resources.

We suggest that these constructs provide university physics teachers with a new set of practical tools with which to view their own practice in order to enhance student 

References

Airey, J. (2006). Physics Students' Experiences of the Disciplinary Discourse Encountered in Lectures in English and Swedish.   Licentiate Thesis. Uppsala, Sweden: Department of Physics, Uppsala University.,

Airey J. (2009). Science, Language and Literacy. Case Studies of Learning in Swedish University Physics. Acta Universitatis   Upsaliensis. Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology 81. Uppsala  Retrieved 2009-04-27, from   http://publications.uu.se/theses/abstract.xsql?dbid=9547

Airey, J. (2014) Representations in Undergraduate Physics. Docent lecture, Ångström Laboratory, 9th June 2014 From   http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-226598

Airey, J. & Linder, C. (2015) Social Semiotics in Physics Education: Leveraging critical constellations of disciplinary representations   ESERA 2015 From http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn%3Anbn%3Ase%3Auu%3Adiva-260209

Airey, J., & Linder, C. (2009). "A disciplinary discourse perspective on university science learning: Achieving fluency in a critical   constellation of modes." Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(1), 27-49.

Airey, J. & Linder, C. (in press) Social Semiotics in Physics Education : Multiple Representations in Physics Education   Springer

Airey, J., & Eriksson, U. (2014). A semiotic analysis of the disciplinary affordances of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram in   astronomy. Paper presented at the The 5th International 360 conference: Encompassing the multimodality of knowledge,   Aarhus, Denmark.

Airey, J., Eriksson, U., Fredlund, T., and Linder, C. (2014). "The concept of disciplinary affordance"The 5th International 360   conference: Encompassing the multimodality of knowledge. City: Aarhus University: Aarhus, Denmark, pp. 20.

Eriksson, U. (2015) Reading the Sky: From Starspots to Spotting Stars Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

Eriksson, U., Linder, C., Airey, J., & Redfors, A. (2014). Who needs 3D when the Universe is flat? Science Education, 98(3),   412-442.

Eriksson, U., Linder, C., Airey, J., & Redfors, A. (2014). Introducing the anatomy of disciplinary discernment: an example from   astronomy. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 2(3), 167‐182.

Fredlund 2015 Using a Social Semiotic Perspective to Inform the Teaching and Learning of Physics. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

Fredlund, T., Airey, J., & Linder, C. (2012). Exploring the role of physics representations: an illustrative example from students   sharing knowledge about refraction. European Journal of Physics, 33, 657-666.

Fredlund, T, Airey, J, & Linder, C. (2015a). Enhancing the possibilities for learning: Variation of disciplinary-relevant aspects in   physics representations. European Journal of Physics.

Fredlund, T. & Linder, C., & Airey, J. (2015b). Towards addressing transient learning challenges in undergraduate physics: an   example from electrostatics. European Journal of Physics. 36 055002.

Fredlund, T. & Linder, C., & Airey, J. (2015c). A social semiotic approach to identifying critical aspects. International Journal for   Lesson and Learning Studies 2015 4:3 , 302-316

Fredlund, T., Linder, C., Airey, J., & Linder, A. (2014). Unpacking physics representations: Towards an appreciation of disciplinary   affordance. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res., 10(020128).

Gibson, J. J. (1979). The theory of affordances The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception (pp. 127-143). Boston: Houghton   Miffin.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1978). Language as a social semiotic. London: Arnold.

Linder, C. (2013). Disciplinary discourse, representation, and appresentation in the teaching and learning of science. European   Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 1(2), 43-49.

Norman, D. A. (1988). The psychology of everyday things. New York: Basic Books.

Mavers, D. Glossary of multimodal terms  Retrieved 6 May, 2014, from http://multimodalityglossary.wordpress.com/affordance/

van Leeuwen, T. (2005). Introducing social semiotics. London: Routledge.

Wu, H-K, & Puntambekar, S. (2012). Pedagogical Affordances of Multiple External Representations in Scientific Processes. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21(6), 754-767.

Keyword
Social Semiotics, critical constellations, multiple representations, physics, Higher education, Undergraduate physics
National Category
Other Physics Topics Didactics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-316381 (URN)
Conference
The 8th International Conference on Multimodality (8ICOM, 6-9 Dec 2016, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Available from: 2017-02-28 Created: 2017-02-28 Last updated: 2017-03-06Bibliographically approved
Fredlund, T., Linder, C. & Airey, J. (2015). A social semiotic approach to identifying critical aspects. International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, 4(3), 302-316.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A social semiotic approach to identifying critical aspects
2015 (English)In: International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, ISSN 2046-8253, E-ISSN 2046-8261, Vol. 4, no 3, 302-316 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose

This article proposes a social semiotic approach to analysing objects of learning in terms of their critical aspects.

Design/methodology/approach

The design for this article focuses on how the semiotic resources – including language, equations, and diagrams – that are commonly used in physics teaching realise the critical aspects of a common physics object of learning. A social semiotic approach to the analysis of a canonical text extract from optics is presented to illustrate how critical aspects can be identified. 

Findings

Implications for university teaching and learning of physics stemming from this social semiotic approach are suggested.

Originality/value

Hitherto under-explored similarities between the Variation Theory of Learning, which underpins learning studies, and a social semiotic approach to meaning-making are identified. These similarities are used to propose a new, potentially very powerful approach to identifying critical aspects of objects of learning.

References:

Airey, J. and Linder, C. (2009), “A disciplinary discourse perspective on university science learning: achieving fluency in a critical constellation of modes”, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Vol. 46 No. 1, pp. 27-49.

Bernhard, J. (2010), “Insightful learning in the laboratory: some experiences from 10 years of designing and using conceptual labs”, European Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 35 No. 3, pp. 271-287.

Booth, S. (1997), “On phenomenography, learning and teaching”, Higher Education Research & Development, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 135-158. 

Booth, S. and Hultén, M. (2003), “Opening dimensions of variation: an empirical study of learning in a web-based discussion”, Instructional Science, Vol. 31 Nos 1/2, 65-86.

Chandler, D. (2007), Semiotics: The Basics, Routledge, New York, NY. Clerk-Maxwell, J.C. (1871), “Remarks on the mathematical classification of physical quantities”, Proceedings London Math. Soc., London, pp. 224-233.

Cope, C. (2000), “Educationally critical aspects of the experience of learning about the concept of an information system”, PhD thesis, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

Einstein, A. (1936), “Physics and reality”, Journal of the Franklin Institute, Vol. 221 No. 3, pp. 349-382.

Feynman, R.P., Leighton, R.P. and Sands, M. (1963), The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I, Perseus Books, Reading, available at: www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu, (accessed 9 March 2015).

Fredlund, T., Airey, J. and Linder, C. (2012), “Exploring the role of physics representations: an illustrative example from students sharing knowledge about refraction”, Eur. J. Phys., Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 657-666.

Fredlund, T., Airey, J. and Linder, C. (2015), “Enhancing the possibilities for learning: variation of disciplinary-relevant aspects in physics representations”, Eur. J. Phys, Vol. 36, 055001.

Fredlund, T., Linder, C., Airey, J. and Linder, A. (2014), “Unpacking physics representations: towards an appreciation of disciplinary affordance”, Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res., Vol. 10, 020129.

Gurwitsch, A. (1964), The Field of Consciousness, Vol. 2, Duquesne University Press, Pittsburgh, PA. Halliday, M.A.K. (1978), Language as Social Semiotic, Edward Arnold, London.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1993), “On the language of physical science”, in Halliday, M.A.K. and Martin, J.R. (Eds), Writing Science: Literacy and Discursive Power, The Falmer Press, London, pp. 59-75.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1998), “Things and relations: regrammaticising experience as technical knowledge”, in Martin, J.R. and Veel, R. (Eds), Reading Science: Critical and Functional Perspectives on Discourses of Science, Routledge, London, pp. 185-236.

Halliday, M.A.K. (2004a), “The grammatical construction of scientific knowledge: the framing of the English clause”, in Webster, J.J. (Ed.), Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday: The Language of Science, Vol. 5, Continuum, London, pp. 102-134.

Halliday, M.A.K. (2004b), “Language and the reshaping of human experience”, in Webster, J.J. (Ed.), Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday: The Language of Science, Vol. 5, Continuum, London, pp. 7-23.

Halliday, M.A.K. and Matthiessen, C.M.I.M. (1999), Construing Experience Through Meaning, Cassell, New York, NY.

Halliday, M.A.K. and Matthiessen, C.M.I.M. (2004), An Introduction to Functional Grammar, Hodder Education, London.

Hodge, R. and Kress, G. (1988), Social Semiotics, Cornell University Press, New York, NY.

Ingerman, Å., Linder, C. and Marshall, D. (2009), “The learners’ experience of variation: following students’ threads of learning physics in computer simulation sessions”, Instructional Science, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 273-292.

Kress, G. (1997), Before Writing: Rethinking the Paths to Literacy, Routledge, London.

Kress, G. (2010), Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication, Routledge, London.

Kress, G. and Van Leeuwen, T. (2006), Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design, Routledge, New York, NY. 

Kryjevskaia, M., Stetzer, M.R. and Heron, P.R.L. (2012), “Student understanding of wave behavior at a boundary: the relationships among wavelength, propagation speed, and frequency”, Am. J. Phys., Vol. 80 No. 4, pp. 339-347.

Lemke, J.L. (1983), “Thematic analysis, systems, structures, and strategies”, Semiotic Inquiry, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 159-187.

Lemke, J.L. (1990), Talking Science, Ablex Publishing, Norwood, NJ. Lemke, J.L. (1998), “Multiplying meaning: visual and verbal semiotics in scientific text”, in Martin, J.R. and Veel, R. (Eds), Reading Science: Critical and Functional Perspectives on Discourses of Science, Routledge, London, pp. 87-114.

Lemke, J.L. (2003), “Mathematics in the middle: measure, picture, gesture, sign and word”, in Anderson M., Saenz-Ludlow A., Zellweger S. and Cifarelli V. (Eds), Educational Perspectives on Mathematics as Semiosis: From Thinking to Interpreting to Knowing, Legas, Ottawa, pp. 215-234.

Linder, C., Fraser, D. and Pang, M.F. (2006), “Using a variation approach to enhance physics learning in a college classroom”, The Physics Teacher, Vol. 44 No. 9, pp. 589-592.

Lo, M.L. (2012), Variation Theory and the Improvement of Teaching and Learning, Göteborgs Universitet, Gothenburg.

Lo, M.L. and Marton, F. (2011), “Towards a science of the art of teaching: using variation theory as a guiding principle of pedagogical design”, International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 7-22.

Mahoney, M.S. (1994), The Mathematical Career of Pierre de Fermat, 1601-1665, Princeton University Press, Princeton, MA.

Marton, F. (2006), “Sameness and difference in transfer”, The Journal of the Learning Sciences, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 499-535.

Marton, F. (2015), Necessary Conditions of Learning, Routledge, New York, NY.

Marton, F. and Booth, S. (1997), Learning and Awareness, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.

Marton, F. and Pang, M.F. (2013), “Meanings are acquired from experiencing differences against a background of sameness, rather than from experiencing sameness against a background of difference: putting a conjecture to the test by embedding it in a pedagogical tool”, Frontline Learning Research, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 24-41.

Marton, F. and Tsui, A.B.M. (2004), Classroom Discourse and the Space of Learning, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, London.

Marton, F., Runesson, U. and Tsui, A.B.M. (2004), “The space of learning”, in Marton, F. and Tsui, A.B.M. (Eds), Classroom Discourse and the Space of Learning, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, London, pp. 3-40.

New London Group (1996), “A pedagogy of multiliteracies: designing social futures”, Harvard Educational Review, Vol. 66 No. 1, pp. 60-93. Norris, S.P. and Phillips, L.M. (2003), “How literacy in its fundamental sense is central to scientific literacy”, Science Education, Vol. 87 No. 2, pp. 224-240.

O’Halloran, K.L. (2005), Mathematical Discourse: Language, Symbolism and Visual Images, Continuum, London.

Pang, M.F. and Marton, F. (2013), “Interaction between the learners’ initial grasp of the object of learning and the learning resource orded”, Instructional Science, Vol. 41 No. 6, pp. 1065-1082.

Van Leeuwen, T. (2005), Introducing Social Semiotics, Routledge, New York, NY.

Warrell, D. A. (1994), “Sea snake bites in the Asia-Pacific region”, in Gopalakrishnakone, P. (Ed.), Sea Snake Toxinology, Singapore University Press, Singapore, pp. 1-36. 

Wignell, P., Martin, J.R. and Eggins, S. (1993), “The discourse of geography: ordering and explaining the experiential world”, in Halliday, M.A.K. and Martin, J.R. (Eds), Writing Science: Literacy and Discursive Power, The Falmer Press, London, pp. 151-183.

Wood, K. (2013), “A design for teacher education based on a systematic framework of variation to link teaching with learners’ ways of experiencing the object of learning”, International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 56-71.

Young, H.D. and Freedman, R.A. (2004), University Physics with Modern Physics, Pearson, San Francisco, CA.

Keyword
Learning study, Variation Theory of Learning, social semiotics, objects of learning, disciplinary-relevant aspects, critical aspects, teaching practice, physics education
National Category
Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-247768 (URN)10.1108/IJLLS-01-2015-0005 (DOI)
Available from: 2015-03-23 Created: 2015-03-23 Last updated: 2017-12-04
Linder, C. (2015). Book Review: Thinking in Physics: The Pleasure of Reasoning and Understanding [Review]. European journal of physics, 37(1), Article ID 019001.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Book Review: Thinking in Physics: The Pleasure of Reasoning and Understanding
2015 (English)In: European journal of physics, ISSN 0143-0807, E-ISSN 1361-6404, Vol. 37, no 1, 019001Article, book review (Other academic) Published
National Category
Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-267582 (URN)10.1088/0143-0807/37/1/019001 (DOI)
Available from: 2015-11-24 Created: 2015-11-24 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved
Linder, C. & Linder, A. (2015). Categories of influence: the case of light and sound in physics. In: Part of an invited seminar on: Content-focused research on student and teacher learning in the field of optics: . Paper presented at 11th conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA 2015), August 31 - September 4, 2015, Helsinki, Finland. .
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Categories of influence: the case of light and sound in physics
2015 (English)In: Part of an invited seminar on: Content-focused research on student and teacher learning in the field of optics, 2015Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

 In any given physics education situation students will spontaneously respond as a function of the features of the situation that they feel are relevant; what the situation is seen to call for. In phenomenography, a research approach that aims to capture variation in terms of qualitative differences in educational experience, this is referred to as the “relevance structure”. This construct is virtually unknown in physics education circles, yet it opens a realm of possible educational interventions that could dramatically alter physics students’ learning experiences. This is because it shifts the learning experience focus on to facilitating the noticing of critical parts by design in ways that have been shown to distinctly enhance the possibility of learning. 

We propose that relevance structure is made up of categories of influence that play an important role in mediating and influencing both new learning and applications of what has already been learned. To support our proposal, while exemplifying relevance structure in a physics education context, 18 graduate physics students were asked to compare and contrast the physics concepts of light and sound. The data was collected using semi-structured interviews that had as their starting point a textbook-given generalized wave equation for a wave ψ (x, t) traveling in the x direction with speed v. All discussion was audio recorded. For the analysis, all of the interview discussion was transcribed verbatim and the methodology followed the phenomenographic form of the iterative constant comparative approach, which is at the collective rather than individual level. Three categories of influence were found. These are discussed in terms of educational insight into differences that are seen to be critical. The implication that physics teachers need to actively help students develop more coherent and connected relevance structure for given educational tasks is discussed and exemplified.

National Category
Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-262614 (URN)
Conference
11th conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA 2015), August 31 - September 4, 2015, Helsinki, Finland
Available from: 2015-09-17 Created: 2015-09-17 Last updated: 2015-09-17
Bossér, U., Lundin, M., Lindahl, M. & Linder, C. (2015). Challenges faced by teachers implementing socio-scientific issues as core elements in their classroom practices. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 3(2), 159-176.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Challenges faced by teachers implementing socio-scientific issues as core elements in their classroom practices
2015 (English)In: European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, ISSN 2301-251X, E-ISSN 2301-251X, Vol. 3, no 2, 159-176 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Teachers may face considerable challenges when implementing socio‐scientific issues (SSI) in their classroom practices, such as incorporating student‐centred teaching practices and exploring knowledge and values in the context of socio-scientific issues. This year‐long study explores teachers’ reflections on the process of developing their classroom practices when implementing SSI. Video‐recorded discussions between two upper secondary school science teachers and an educational researcher, grounded in the teachers’ reflections on their classroom practices, provided data for the analysis. The results show that during the course of the implementation the teachers enhanced their awareness of the importance of promoting students’ participation and supporting their independence as learners. However, the results also suggest a conflict between the enactment of a student‐centred classroom practice and the achievement of intended learning goals. In order to accept the challenge of implementing SSI in the classroom, it is suggested that it is essential for teachers to build strategies, which integrate dialogue about learning goals.

Keyword
secondary school science, scientific literacy, socio‐scientific issues, curriculum implementation, student participation, teacher reflection
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-262605 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2015-09-17 Created: 2015-09-17 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
Forsman, J., Van den Bogaard, M., Linder, C. & Fraser, D. (2015). Considering student retention as a complex system: a possible way forward for enhancing student retention. European Journal of Engineering Education, 40(3), 235-255.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Considering student retention as a complex system: a possible way forward for enhancing student retention
2015 (English)In: European Journal of Engineering Education, ISSN 0304-3797, E-ISSN 1469-5898, Vol. 40, no 3, 235-255 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study uses multilayer minimum spanning tree analysis to develop a model for student retention from a complex system perspective, using data obtained from first-year engineering students at a large well-regarded institution in the European Union. The results show that the elements of the system of student retention are related to one another through a network of links and that some of these links were found to be strongly persistent across different scales (group sizes). The links were also seen to group together in different clusters of strongly related elements. Links between elements across a wide range of these clusters would have system-wide influence. It was found that there were no elements that are both persistent and have system-wide effects. This complex system view of student retention explains why actions to enhance student retention aimed at single elements in the system have had such limited impact.This study therefore points to the need for a more system-wide approach to enhancing student retention.

Keyword
higher education, student retention, complex systems, multilayer minimum spanning tree analysis
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-235499 (URN)10.1080/03043797.2014.941340 (DOI)000355565100001 ()
Available from: 2014-11-05 Created: 2014-11-05 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
Fredlund, T., Airey, J. & Linder, C. (2015). Enhancing the possibilities for learning: Variation of disciplinary-relevant aspects in physics representations. European journal of physics, 36(5), Article ID 055001.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Enhancing the possibilities for learning: Variation of disciplinary-relevant aspects in physics representations
2015 (English)In: European journal of physics, ISSN 0143-0807, E-ISSN 1361-6404, Vol. 36, no 5, 055001Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this theoretical article we propose three factors that can enhance the possibilities for learning physics from representations, namely: (1) the identification of disciplinary-relevant aspects for a particular disciplinary task, such as solving a physics problem or explaining a phenomenon, (2) the selection of appropriate representations that showcase these disciplinary-relevant aspects, and (3) the creation of variation within the selected representations to help students notice these disciplinary-relevant aspects and the ways in which they are related to each other. An illustration of how these three factors can guide teachers in their efforts to promote physics learning is presented.

Keyword
Disciplinary-relevant aspects, representations, Variation Theory of Learning, physics education
National Category
Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-247770 (URN)10.1088/0143-0807/36/5/055001 (DOI)000359609100001 ()
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2015-03-23 Created: 2015-03-23 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
Moll, R., Nielsen, W. & Linder, C. (2015). Physics Students' Social Media Learning Behaviours and Connectedness. International Journal of Digital Literacy and Digital Competence, 6(2), 16-35.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Physics Students' Social Media Learning Behaviours and Connectedness
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Digital Literacy and Digital Competence, ISSN 1947-3494, Vol. 6, no 2, 16-35 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Other Physics Topics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-267895 (URN)10.4018/IJDLDC.2015040102 (DOI)
Available from: 2015-11-27 Created: 2015-11-27 Last updated: 2015-11-27
Airey, J. & Linder, C. (2015). Social semiotics in university physics education: Leveraging critical constellations of disciplinary representations. In: : . Paper presented at 11th conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA 2015), August 31 - September 4, 2015, Helsinki, Finland. .
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social semiotics in university physics education: Leveraging critical constellations of disciplinary representations
2015 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Social semiotics is a broad construct where all communication is viewed as being realized through signs and their signification. In physics education we usually refer to these signs as disciplinary representations. These disciplinary representations are the semiotic resources used in physics communication, such as written and oral languages, diagrams, graphs, mathematics, apparatus and simulations. This alternative depiction of representations is used to build theory with respect to the construction and sharing of disciplinary knowledge in the teaching and learning of university physics. Based on empirical studies of physics students cooperating to explain the refraction of light, a number of theoretical constructs were developed. In this presentation we describe these constructs and examine their usefulness for problematizing teaching and learning in university physics. The theoretical constructs are: fluency in semiotic resources, disciplinary affordance and critical constellations.

The conclusion formulates a proposal that has these constructs provide university physics teachers with a new set of meaningfully and practical tools, which will enable them to re-conceptualize their practice in ways that have the distinct potential to optimally enhance student learning.

 

 

Purpose

This aim of this theoretical paper is to present representations as semiotic resources in order to make a case for three related constructs that we see as being central to learning with multiple representations in university physics; fluency in semiotic resources, disciplinary affordance and critical constellations. We suggest that an understanding of these constructs is a necessary part of a physics lecturer’s educational toolbox.

 

Why semiotics?

The construct of representations as it is presently used in science education can, in our opinion, be unintentionally limiting since it explicitly excludes important aspects such as physical objects, (e.g. physics apparatus) and actions (e.g. measuring a value). Clearly, such aspects play a central role in sharing physics meaning and they are explicitly included as semiotic resources in a social semiotic approach. Van Leeuwen (2005:1) explains the preference for the term semiotic resource instead of other terms such as representation claiming that “[…] it avoids the impression that what a [representation] stands for is somehow pre-given, and not affected by its use”. Thus, the term semiotic resource encompasses other channels of meaning making, as well as everything that is generally termed external representations (Ainsworth, 2006).

 

Why social semiotics?

The reason for adopting social semiotics is that different groups develop their own systems of meaning making. This is often achieved either by the creation of new specialized semiotic resources or by assigning specific specialized meaning to more general semiotic resources. Nowhere is this more salient than in physics where the discipline draws on a wide variety of specialized resources in order to share physics knowledge. In our work in undergraduate physics education we have introduced three separate constructs that we believe are important for learning in physics: fluency in semiotic resources, disciplinary affordance and critical constellations.

 

Fluency in semiotic resources

The relationship between learning and representations has received much attention in the literature. The focus has often been how students can achieve “representational competence” (For a recent example see Linder et al 2014). In this respect, different semiotic resources have been investigated, including mathematics, graphs, gestures, diagrams and language. Considering just one of these resources, spoken language, it is clear that in order to share meaning using this resource one first needs to attain some sort of fluency in the language in question. We have argued by extension that the same holds for all the semiotic resources that we use in physics (Airey & Linder, 2009). It is impossible to make meaning with a disciplinary semiotic resource without first becoming fluent in its use. By fluency we mean a process through which handling a particular semiotic resource with respect to a given piece of physics content becomes unproblematic, almost second-nature. Thus, in our social semiotic characterization, if a person is said to be fluent in a particular semiotic resource, then they have come to understand the ways in which the discipline generally uses that resource to share physics knowledge. Clearly, such fluency is educationally critical for understanding the ways that students learn to combine semiotic resources, which is the interest of this symposium. However, there is more to learning physics than achieving fluency. For example:

 

MIT undergraduates, when asked to comment about their high school physics, almost universally declared they could “solve all the problems” (and essentially all had received A's) but still felt they “really didn't understand at all what was going on”. diSessa (1993, p. 152)

 

Clearly, these students had acquired excellent fluency in disciplinary semiotic resources, yet still lacked a qualitative conceptual understanding.

 

The disciplinary affordance of semiotic resources

Thus, we argue that becoming fluent in the use of a particular semiotic resource, though necessary, is not sufficient for an appropriate physics understanding. For an appropriate understanding we argue that students need to come to appreciate the disciplinary affordance of the semiotic resource (Fredlund, Airey, & Linder, 2012; Fredlund, Linder, Airey, & Linder, 2015). We define disciplinary affordance as the potential of a given semiotic resource to provide access to disciplinary knowledge. Thus we argue that combining fluency with an appreciation of the disciplinary affordance of a given semiotic resource leads to appropriate disciplinary meaning making. However, in practice the majority of physics phenomena cannot be adequately represented by one a single semiotic resource. This leads us to the theme of this symposium—the combination of multiple representations.

 

Critical constellations – the significance of this work for the symposium theme

The significance of the social semiotic approach we have outlined for work on multiple representations lies in the concept of critical constellations.

Building on the work of Airey & Linder (2009), Airey (2009) suggests there is a critical constellation of disciplinary semiotic resources that are necessary for appropriate holistic experience of any given disciplinary concept. Using our earlier constructs we can see that students will first need to become fluent in each of the semiotic resources that make up this critical constellation. Next, they need to come to appreciate the disciplinary affordance of each separate semiotic resource. Then, finally, they can attempt to grasp the concept in an appropriate, disciplinary manner. In this respect, Linder (2013) suggests that disciplinary learning entails coming to appreciate the collective disciplinary affordance of a critical constellation of semiotic resources.

 

Recommendations

There are a number of consequences of this work for the teaching and learning of physics. First, we claim that teachers need to provide opportunities for their students to achieve fluency in a range of semiotic resources. Next teachers need to know more about the disciplinary affordances of the individual semiotic resources they use in their teaching (see Fredlund et al 2012 for a good example of this type of work).

Finally, teachers need to contemplate which critical constellations of semiotic resources are necessary for making which physics knowledge available to their students. In this respect physics teachers need to appreciate that knowing their students as learners includes having a deep appreciation of the kinds of critical constellations that their particular students need in order to effectively learn physics

 

References

Ainsworth, S. (2006). DeFT: A conceptual framework for considering learning with multiple representations. Learning and Instruction, 16(3), 183-198.

Airey, J. (2009). Science, Language and Literacy. Case Studies of Learning in Swedish University Physics. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology 81. Uppsala  Retrieved 2009-04-27, from http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A173193&dswid=-4725

Airey, J., & Linder, C. (2009). A disciplinary discourse perspective on university science learning: Achieving fluency in a critical constellation of modes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46(1), 27-49.

diSessa, A. A. (1993). Toward an Epistemology of Physics. Cognition and Instruction, 10(2 & 3), 105-225.

Fredlund, T., Airey, J., & Linder, C. (2012). Exploring the role of physics representations: an illustrative example from students sharing knowledge about refraction. European Journal of Physics, 33, 657-666.

Fredlund, T., Linder, C., Airey, J., & Linder, A. (2015). Unpacking physics representations: towards an appreciation of disciplinary affordance. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res., 10( 020128 (2014)).

Linder, A., Airey, J., Mayaba, N., & Webb, P. (2014). Fostering Disciplinary Literacy? South African Physics Lecturers’ Educational Responses to their Students’ Lack of Representational Competence. African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 18(3). doi: 10.1080/10288457.2014.953294

Linder, C. (2013). Disciplinary discourse, representation, and appresentation in the teaching and learning of science. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 1(2), 43-49.

van leeuwen, T. (2005). Introducing social semiotics. London: Routledge.

 

Keyword
Representations, Social semiotics, Disciplinary affordance, Pedagogical affordance, Unpacking.
National Category
Other Physics Topics Educational Sciences Didactics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-261341 (URN)
Conference
11th conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA 2015), August 31 - September 4, 2015, Helsinki, Finland
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 721-2010-5780
Available from: 2015-09-07 Created: 2015-09-01 Last updated: 2015-12-06Bibliographically approved
Patron, E., Wikman, S., Edfors, I., Cederblad, B. & Linder, C. (2015). Teachers' use and views of visual representations when teaching chemical bonding. In: : . Paper presented at 11th conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA 2015), August 31 - September 4, 2015, Helsinki, Finland. .
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teachers' use and views of visual representations when teaching chemical bonding
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2015 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
National Category
Organic Chemistry Didactics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-270898 (URN)
Conference
11th conference of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA 2015), August 31 - September 4, 2015, Helsinki, Finland
Available from: 2016-01-04 Created: 2016-01-04 Last updated: 2016-01-04
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0001-6409-5182

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